Sports Physicals: The Basics

School is back in session, so let the games begin! But before the games can begin, you have to turn in the medical eligibility form, aka sports physicals. So what do you do?

We’ve all been there. At the beginning of the school year, it’s easy to allow the paperwork to pile up, and before you know it, it’s time for sports physicals. You can avoid this extra hassle if you schedule your child’s wellness exam and sports physical for the same appointment.

Even if your child isn’t planning on participating in organized sports at school, it’s still a good idea to get a sport’s physical for children who participate in physically demanding activities like:

  • Snowboarding
  • Skiing
  • Jogging
  • Climbing
  • Hiking

What’s a PPE?

A Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation (PPE) is an acronym for sports physicals. This physical is based on The Pre-Participation Physical Evaluation (PPE) Monograph, 5th Edition, which was created as a resource for medical providers to keep athletes safe and healthy while participating in sports.

Where and When Should a PPE Take Place?

Ideally, a PPE will be conducted at your child’s primary care provider during their regular annual check-up.

If this is not possible, the PPE should be conducted at least six weeks before the first preseason practice to allow time to evaluate the athlete and treat any medical conditions found during the visit.

Depending on state law,  an MD, DO, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant can conduct the PPE examination with clinical training to evaluate and determine the medical eligibility of the athlete on a broad range of health issues.

What Happens During a PPE?

You will complete a health history form for your child. You can save a lot of time by completing the health history form before the appointment. A separate form is available for children with disabilities.

During the exam, your healthcare provider completes the PPE physical examination form. This form guides primary care providers in conducting a system-based examination to include the:

  • Cardiovascular system
  • Nervous system
  • Respiratory system
  • Gastrointestinal and urogenital systems
  • General medical conditions
  • Dermatological
  • Musculoskeletal
  • Mental health

Your healthcare provider will then complete a medical eligibility form and declare your child medically eligible for :

  • Sports without restrictions
  • Sports without restriction, but further evaluation needed
  • Certain sports listed on the form

What Are the Basics Your Healthcare Provider Looks for During the Exam?

Heart Health

Although rare in athletes, sudden cardiac deaths can occur. Your healthcare provider will go over a list of questions about heart health with you and your child. These may include asking:

  • About symptoms that may suggest problems with the heart.
  • Your child or you about any past heart evaluations or whether your child has a history of high blood pressure.
  • About any family history of heart problems or heart disease.

Few children are at risk for heart problems, and most are cleared without restriction. If any red flags do come up, a pediatric cardiologist’s opinion may be required before your child can be cleared to play.

Mental Health

It’s not uncommon for children and adolescents to experience concerns with emotional health. Factor in the pressures kids experience in sports and performing arts and the number of kids struggling with:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Perfectionism
  • Stress
  • Attention deficits increases

That is why it’s important to have your child evaluated by someone they trust in a private setting rather than a mass physical — so healthcare providers can ask sensitive questions to discover any concerns about your child’s mental health and recommend treatments.

Concerns of Female Athletes

Female athletes and performers have unique concerns known as the female athlete triad, which include:

Young females are also at a higher risk than males for certain bone and joint injuries, including ACL tears. The PPE has built-in questions and tests that can lead to treatment and prevention programs that will help keep your daughter safer.

Concerns of Disabled Athletes

Every child deserves the opportunity to compete and participate in sports. For children and teens with physical disabilities such as:

  • Lack of full vision
  • Loss of use of arms or legs
  • Muscle control problems

A careful sports physical can help direct them to activities that are the most appropriate.

Concussions and Head Injuries

Athletes with known or possible concussions need to be cleared by a healthcare professional before returning to sports or exercise activities. A child who has had one or more concussions is at a greater risk for more concussions.

Contact Us Today

Getting that medical eligibility form filled out can be as easy as 1-2-3. All you have to do is make an appointment, and we will take care of the rest.


Article Name
Sports Physicals: The Basics
Getting that medical eligibility form filled out can be as easy as 1-2-3. All you have to do is make an appointment for a Sports Physical and we will take care of the rest.

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